An Accessory Everyone is Talking About: Bracelets That Benefit Breast Cancer Genetic Testing

An example of the braceletPat Lewis’ bracelet is a conversation piece. Once, when she was waiting to catch a flight, a little girl sitting beside her in the airport caught a look at her bracelet and couldn’t resist playing with it. That same day, another passenger on the airplane also noticed what a pretty bracelet it was and asked where to get one for a friend. Over the years, many people have noticed the bracelet as something fun and lighthearted, bringing a smile to one’s eye, as did Mel who is recognized below.

They are keen observers -- the bracelet definitely has a story to tell.

When Pat Lewis's sister, Maureen, passed away at age 45 after fighting breast cancer followed by complications with rheumatoid arthritis, her Mom gave Pat the colorful, bright, beaded bracelet. The bracelet is one of Mel's Bracelets, sold by the Friends of Mel Foundation Icon indicating that a link will open an external site. in memory of Mel Simmons, a flight attendant from Boston who died of breast cancer.

Pat Lewis (right) presents her first check to Debbie Dibbert, UNC Lineberger Director of External Affairs.


A few years before that, Pat had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a course of radiation therapy and is an eight year survivor. After treatment, she met with Cecile Skrzynia, MS, CGC, a genetic counselor with UNC’s Cancer Genetics program. Pat wanted to find out if she carried the breast cancer gene so that other women in her family – especially her college-age daughter and nieces - could be aware. The results showed that she did not carry the breast cancer gene; they also reinforced her support of genetic testing. "It's important information to know," she says.

She decided to "arm" herself with Mel's Bracelets and is selling them to raise money to provide genetic testing for breast cancer patients at UNC who cannot afford this type of testing. For every $15 bracelet sold, $5 is donated to UNC Lineberger for this purpose.

To place a bracelet order, email Pat An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program..

Please note: Orders must be placed with Pat for UNC to receive the donation.